“Life Scene 5
It feels like you’re about to die.
It’s about time to uplift ourselves,
And see what’s good and what’s bad.
We should be calm.
You must find this in yourself. Don’t be stupid.
Find this before your death is a big waste.
We’re not just born to consume stuff.
We should be alive to know ourselves.
It has no name, because we think it’s bad.
Is rotting the same as death?
This is very boring. What is good?
Dead bodies are there for everyone to see,
Have no doubt.
The body dies, but the mind is still with the world.
It can still be useful.” Buddhadasa Bhikku
So I’m wrapping up this series with something from Buddhadasa Bhikku, some excerpts from old meditation journals, who knows what else.
I’ve been trying to write about knowledge, as well. I want to start with a few very rudimentary thoughts on that.
1. In TSK, time, space and knowledge go together. They’re the basic elements of everything. They are both what we conventionally think of as time, space, and knowing, and more esoteric understandings of these things.
2. Tarthang Tulku uses the conventional conceptions of these three things as a kind of bridge to wisdom regarding these three.
3. Just a short time ago, I had the very basic idea of knowledge as bridge past and present. I think this is pretty good. It’s just basic enough to work, maybe.
4. Of course, once you have the idea of bridging past and present, all sorts of other possibilities come up.
5. Knowledge is another way of talking about wisdom (and confusion) and the way this is interspersed or interwoven into normal everyday life.
I have a feeling I’m forgetting something in that list, but I have that feeling a lot (and usually am forgetting something). To bring this back to the poem at the beginning, in Buddhism, death, or impermanence, is something we often contemplate.
Contemplation can mean a formal meditative practice, where you sit, and think over a phrase or statement, or a less formal process of mulling something over.
As far as the knowledge or intuitions or ideas that come from contemplating death, the fact that things change, die, reform, and so on, this is generally supposed to be spontaneous. You’re not supposed to jump to a conclusion. The reality of impermanence could connect to compassion, or maybe not. That connection is up to the meditator. I hope that idea is clear enough.
Some excerpts from old journals:
“[self as] organizing… interpreting… owning…”
“[Rinpoche] suggests viewing self as part of ‘given’ content of a moment. How?”
“Do thoughts naturally have subtle visual elements?”
Knowledge is about exploration, experimentation, art. For better or worse, the current situation, at least in the developed world, is that there is way too much knowledge out there to be enjoyed- libraries, bookstores, classes, some good websites, as well as some mediocre ones.
“Thoughts seem inherently boring…”
For lucky people like myself, a certain kind of overstimulated boredom seems to be more or less an epidemic. Of course, the dharma is unstoppable, and even that becomes insight and wisdom, given the right situation.
There are a million wisdom traditions out there, many just within Buddhism itself.
Without knowing much about the above torma offering, it seems to be covered in eyes, with a raven on top of it. I believe it is some kind of protector offering. The multiple eyes make me think of Rudra, said to have eyes all over his body. The raven could be a symbol of Mahakala (although I think it too, can be connected to Rudra).
Originally I believe Rudra came from Hindu myth and teachings. In Tibetan Buddhism, the story is that Rudra killed his teacher because of pride. His teacher told him he was making a big mistake, and Rudra took out his sword and killed the teacher. Rudra was reborn as a kind of demon, who was then eventually bound to the teachings as a wrathful protector (something like a fierce deity protecting the Buddhist teachings).
This quality of wrath is very very interesting. It actually exists in many forms, you could say, in the teachings. Just the teaching of impermanence is itself wrathful- people want to ignore this generally, assuming a facade of solidity, reality, security, which is not in fact how things function.